Belfast Telegraph

They won’t intimidate us

A week after a gang of masked men robbed two elderly brothers in their home for the third time in two years, Deborah McAleese went back to the scene of the vicious attack and found a defiant community

As Jimmy Murtagh walked into his local store in the small village of Lurganare outside Newry everyone stopped to talk to him.

“Everybody knows Jimmy and Patsy. Bad business what’s been happening to them,” one resident said.

“I know. Everybody think’s it’s terrible. They seem to be being repeatedly targeted. This is just a sleepy village and it’s a shock that this type of thing has happened,” the store’s owner Anthony Murphy said.

Outside, 83-year-old Jimmy stopped and pointed towards different landmarks around the village, profiling a brief history of his life — where his grandfather grew up, where his mother lived and the quarry where he and his father once worked side by side.

“My family has lived here generations so you could say I know a lot of people. They have all been very good to us. Anthony in the shop just gave me his phone number and told me to phone him if anything else happens or if we have any problems. There are very good people out there.”

A large red notice declaring ‘I check ID’ is prominently attached to the front door of the cottage where Jimmy and 81-year-old brother Patsy have lived for more than 40 years.

After we go in he locks and bolts the door behind him.

“We have to barricade ourselves in now. That’s not a good thing. But you keep worrying that they will come back again,” said Jimmy.

It has been one week since five masked men forced their way into the brothers’ home, attacked them when they tried to fight back and then fled with their pensions.

“I said to the one who came in here first ‘Have you guys got parents? What would they think?’, but he just put his head down,” said Jimmy. “I lifted a chair and swiped at him. Then Patsy took a swipe at him too. I pushed him out the door, then I got this,” he said, pointing to a bruise on his right eye sustained after one of the robbers struck him with an iron bar.

“I would fight back again. This is our house.”

It was the third time in two years that robbers targeted the brothers.

Their neighbour Michael Collins (57) said of the attackers: “I wouldn’t even call them animals. I would call them sewer rats. We’re all sickened by it.”

The PSNI had asked Newry Council to install lighting close to the house in a bid to deter any further attacks, but the local authority said it was unable to because of financial difficulties.

However, a Newry-based security firm, JMC Mobile Ltd, offered to install CCTV and security lighting free of charge after hearing about the case.

Installing the security systems yesterday, head of security Niall King said: “The CCTV cameras and lights should give them security and peace of mind.”

As he walked outside to look at his new CCTV cameras, Jimmy pointed towards a pink rose bush.

“I love gardening and roses. I will not be leaving here. They will not intimidate me out.”

As he stood to get his photograph taken he chuckled: “I’m a celebrity. Get me out of here. Isn’t that what they say?”

He then walked back into his cottage and bolted the door.

Belfast Telegraph

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